But first, a note about what was excluded. For starters, a number of things from The Awl, which were of course my ultimate favorites. (I won’t name names, because I love everyone who writes for us equally but also in a unique and special way, but I will point out that we have a delightfully browsable Longreads tag!)
Then also, what I think is my favorite story of the year, Janet Malcolm’s “Iphigenia in Forest Hills,” is subscription-only online. (It is here.) So it can’t be included, because, democracy now! Or something. (Attention currency now?) Likewise, Emily Witt’s excellent “Miami Party Boom” is excerpt-only online (it is here) and so must also be excluded. (But you should buy that issue just to read it. And I do mean “just”! (I’m kidding, n+1! Love you! Because also the second part of the Elif Batuman travelogue about Samarkand in that issue is totally worth reading.)
So here are five complicated, thorny, sometimes even aggravating pieces of writing that stuck with me throughout the year, usually for better, only rarely for worse. These address, in different ways, issues of how we we write. With what sort of language? What do we disclose and when? How do we discuss ourselves? What is the value of talking to other people when writing about our experiences? And then what do we do with that information? Most importantly, exactly how can and should we write about others? (That is another reason why the Janet Malcolm piece was so important.) What obligations do we have?
• Maureen Tkacik, “Look at Me!”
• Jay Caspian Kang, “The High is Always the Pain and the Pain is Always the High”
• Emily Gould, “Death and Blogging”
• Sady Doyle, “13 Ways of Looking at Liz Lemon”
• Pitchfork Reviews Reviews, “wrote this last night on my blackberry at
the forever 21 flagship launch party”
I realize I’m one of millions of Awl groupies, but I’m thankful for all the great writers their site exposes to the world every day.